Facts: Accused was arrested shortly after disembarking from the M/V Wilcon 9 The PC officers who were in fact waiting for him simply accosted him, inspected his bag and finding what looked liked marijuana leaves took him to their headquarters for investigation. The two bundles of suspect articles were confiscated from him and later taken to the NBI laboratory for examination. When they were verified as marijuana leaves, an information for violation of the Dangerous Drugs Act was filed against him. However, and it is Aminnudin’s claim that he was arrested and searched without warrant, making the marijuana allegedly found in his possession inadmissible in evidence against him under the Bill of Rights.
Issue: Whether the accused was caught in flagrante delicto hence justifies the warrantless arrest
Held: No, the accused-appellant was not caught in flagrante nor was a crime about to be committed or had just been committed to justify the warrantless arrest allowed under the Rules of Court. The present case presented no such urgency. It is clear that they had at least two days within which they could have obtained a warrant to arrest and search Aminnudin who was coming to Iloilo on the M/V Wilcon 9. His name was known. The vehicle was Identified. The date of its arrival was certain. And from the information they had received, they could have persuaded a judge that there was probable cause, indeed, to justify the issuance of a warrant. Yet they did nothing. No effort was made to comply with the law. The Bill of Rights was ignored altogether because the PC lieutenant who was the head of the arresting team, had determined on his own authority that a “search warrant was not necessary.” In the case at bar, the accused-appellant was not, at the moment of his arrest, committing a crime nor was it shown that he was about to do so or that he had just done so. What he was doing was descending the gangplank of the M/V Wilcon 9 and there was no outward indication that called for his arrest. To all appearances, he was like any of the other passengers innocently disembarking from the vessel. It was only when the informer pointed to him as the carrier of the marijuana that he suddenly became suspect and so subject to apprehension. It was the furtive finger that triggered his arrest. The Identification by the informer was the probable cause as determined by the officers (and not a judge) that authorized them to pounce upon Aminnudin and immediately arrest him. While this is not to say that the accused-appellant is innocent, for indeed his very own words suggest that he is lying, that fact alone does not justify a finding that he is guilty. The constitutional presumption is that he is innocent, and he will be so declared even if his defense is weak as long as the prosecution is not strong enough to convict him.